FORTY years ago, American folk singer Fred Small wrote the song Everything Possible about the joy and validity of all paths there are to take in life, not only the traditional or expected ones.

Now, the lyrics have been brought to a new form and reimagined in a children’s book featuring the beautiful illustrations of Alison Brown. Following my recent review of the book, I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with Small and Brown about what Everything Possible means to them.

For its openness and unapologetic theme of acceptance, the song has been adopted over the past 40 years by the LGBT community, particularly well-known singing groups such as The Flirtations, whose a capella cover brought the song to many who needed it.

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It is for this heartwarming and widespread interpretation of the song’s initial message that makes the perfect topic for pride month.

Small and Brown were both extremely warm and enthusiastic to share in more detail about this collaborative project, with Small even revealing he had an “affinity for Scotland” due to ancestry and memories of travelling here.

While Small and Brown are not themselves part of the LGBT community they expressed that it was an “honour” to have their work recognised and loved by those who needed to hear the message.

The song began as a lullaby to comfort the son of a friend who was dealing with expectations of masculinity.

The lyrics, and now the words of the storybook, challenge this notion of a strict path in life and have an overarching message that happiness is not dependent on conformity.

I expressed that, as progress within representation for the groups that need it is an issue close to my own heart as a young lesbian, my favourite line was “I will sing you a song no one sang to me” and was delighted to hear Small’s response.

“‘I will sing you a song no one sang to me’ is my favourite line, too. It means little to a child, really, but a great deal to an adult recalling a childhood where elders imposed rigid roles upon them, sometimes with emotional or physical violence,” he explained.

This idea of passing on the positivity and acceptance of the song to new generations is one that came across as of great importance to us all, and in fact, with the song having been around for 40 years now, Small told me of his pride in hearing of many adults whose parents sang it to them, now passing it on to their own children, with some even recycling this painful lyric to something more hopeful with “I will sing you a song someone sang to me”.

As we were discussing some of the most impactful lines of the book and song, Brown presented one of her own favourites: “You can live by yourself, you can gather friends around, you can choose one special one”.

We discussed how this line effectively pushes against traditional and heteronormative living situations as a singular option. When I asked about the visual story and her inspiration, a similar thread appeared.

“The beauty of the natural world had to be central to the story but I also have the child live within a diverse community of people,” she said.

This encapsulates the physical environment of nature taking its lead from the idea of following a natural path to oneself as well as the theme of community.

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This idea that one does not have to rely on a singular set of normative parents brought to my mind Small writing this song 40 years ago to give something truly valuable to the child of a friend.

There is a sense of harmony between Small’s words and Brown’s illustrations that comes across in conversation with them about this shared, and bright inclusive project for future generations of children to come.